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Akeal Hosein: Make batters hit where you want them to hit in powerplay

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Last updated on 21 Apr 2023 | 05:22 AM
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Akeal Hosein: Make batters hit where you want them to hit in powerplay

In a chat with Cricket.com, the West Indies spinner opens up about his excitement of playing in the IPL and more

Akeal Hosein has been West Indies’ go-to bowler in the two white-ball formats and has been among the standout performer for his team for the last couple of years. No West Indies player has picked up more ODI wickets (49) since the spinner’s debut in 2021 and in T20Is, only Jason Holder has more scalps (35) than Hosein (26).

Safe to say that Hosein in the recent past has been irreplaceable when it comes to the bowling department, especially among the spinners. He continues to hone his skills further, playing in T20 leagues around the world and rubbing shoulders with some of the best players and coaches.

Most recently, he was picked in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) paid INR 1 crore to secure his services.

In the absence of the South African trio of Aiden Markram, Marco Jansen and Heinrich Klaasen, Hosein had a terrific chance of making the SRH XI for the initial stages of the IPL 2023, but the team preferred the leg-spin option of Adil Rashid.

Hosein, who is no stranger to franchise leagues, having played in the CPL, BPL, BBL, PSL and most recently in the ILT20, says he is excited to be part of the IPL, one of the best T20 leagues around.

“I'm really excited to play in the IPL. I'm not looking forward to any contest with anyone. I'm just excited to be a part of it. It's one of the best leagues in the world. A pleasure to be a part of it. I'm looking forward and excited to be there and just gaining knowledge, rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the world, picking their brains and when my time comes to play to just go out there and give my best,” Hosein said in a chat with Cricket.com.

Hosein played a huge role in helping Trinbago Knight Riders win the title in 2020 in his first year at the franchise. In fact, in the CPL since 2020, only Sunil Narine (4.8) and Mohammad Nabi (5.1) have a better economy rate than Hosein (5.2).

Bowling in the powerplay is something Hosein thrives at and being a spinner, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. As a unit, SRH have been quite underwhelming in the powerplay this season. They have conceded at 9.5 an over this season in the first six overs and have struck once every 18 deliveries, 28.6 runs apart. They have had the likes of Jansen and Bhuvneshwar Kumar do bulk of the bowling and the wicket-taking.

Besides Markram, Washington Sundar is the only other spinner who has bowled in the powerplay with no success. Does Hosein who has had a lot of success in overs 1-6 (33 wickets, ER 6.8) then come into the side? The question is who does he replace and more importantly, should he have played ahead of Rashid in the first two games given his prowess with the bat too?

Speaking of his strategy in the powerplay, Hosein said, “It depends on the opposition, the condition and what the team requires. Bowling in the powerplay is always difficult. You have only two guys protecting the boundaries for you. 

“But, I think as a spinner, being faced with those challenges, the main thing is to just get [it] out of your head that you are going to be hit. Spinners will get hit at some point. I think it's just down to clarity and execution when you are in that situation. You just make the batsmen hit you where you want them to hit.”

Hosein was part of the side when West Indies lost to Scotland in the T20 World Cup 2022, and later failed to make it to the Super 12s – a low point for everyone associated with the two-time champions.

In the aftermath, Nicholas Pooran stepped down as captain, and in the post-mortem report that was dished out, the three-man committee – one of whom was incidentally SRH coach Brian Lara – observed that West Indies Cricket may cease to exist as an entity if the players continue to prefer T20 leagues over playing for the national side.

New captain Rovman Powell in a chat with Cricket.com not too long ago stated that the T20 World Cup exit was one of the saddest days of his career. “When we exited the competition, it was one of the saddest days of my international career. It was disappointing and frustrating, leaving us with a bitter taste in our mouth to be honest,” he had said.

The West Indies ushered in a new era under Powell with a 2-1 series win over South Africa, in what turned out to be a high-scoring event. Hosein may have played very little part in it, but there’s little doubt that he will have a massive role in West Indies’ resurrection going forward.

Moving on to the Test arena, West Indies have not had much success, barring an impressive series win at home against England. Since then, their three Test wins have come against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, while they were humbled by Australia and then South Africa.

While Hosein has never been considered to play in Tests, he put on an impressive show in the Regional four-day Championship 2019-20, where he finished as the second-highest wicket-taker with 36 wickets at 20.61. However, due to the Covid pandemic, the tournament could not be completed and since the, Hosein has played just one first-class game.

By his own admission, he has not been able to play the four-day matches due to his commitment with the West Indies white-ball team but still hopes to play at the highest level someday.

West Indies have used Rahkeem Cornwall, Roston Chase (off-spinners); Jomel Warrican, Veerasammy Permaul and Gudakesh Motie (left-arm spinners) recently, but none really making a case to hang on to a place in the side. Why not throw in Hosein then?

“The last couple of years, I haven't played much four-day cricket. It all depends on how the schedule aligns with what formats I am currently playing. I haven't played much four-day because I have been representing West Indies in the white-ball format,” Hosein explained.

“Yes, I do enjoy playing four-day as well. It's a more challenging format and testing mentally. I enjoy all formats. I guess we have to see how it goes in terms of going forward - [in terms of ] what's in the schedule for me with white-ball and how I can fit in playing four-day cricket.

“Once I do that and perform well, hopefully I can stake my claim to Test cricket as well.”

The 30-year-old has managed to sustain the pressure that comes along with representing West Indies in limited-overs. At least for the time being, with a couple of World Cups on the horizon Hosein’s presence in the white-ball scene could be of more importance and also pivotal.

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